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Filipino Community’s Green Crusade: CEM’s Impact on Manitoba’s Environment

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In celebration of its seventh anniversary, Caring for Our Environment Manitoba (CEM), a registered non-profit organization, continues its dedicated efforts towards fostering a sustainable and equitable society. Established on June 5, 2017, in conjunction with World Environment Day, CEM has become a vital part of the environmental landscape in Manitoba. The chairperson, Ramon Sales, shares insights into the organization’s mission and ongoing initiatives.

Central to CEM’s mission is achieving Net Zero emissions. As Sales explains, “Net Zero is a situation where the global emissions of carbon dioxide, resulting from burning fossil fuels, oil, and gas, and even the cutting of trees, are counterbalanced by the amount of carbon that is captured from the atmosphere as they are released into it. So, while there are still some carbon emissions, these are counterbalanced by the same amount captured from the atmosphere, resulting in zero emissions.” This delicate balance is crucial in mitigating the impact of human activities on the planet.

Sustainability is another cornerstone of CEM’s philosophy. “Sustainable development means that the current generation meets their own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Sales emphasizes. This approach ensures that economic and social development progresses hand-in-hand with environmental conservation, creating a balanced and enduring future.

While CEM is open to all groups, it currently focuses on the Filipino community in Manitoba. “We participate in events like the Manitoba Filipino Street Festival and Food Trip Kitchen or food market,” says Sales. These events provide platforms for linking businesses and organizations with recycling programs such as Recycle Everywhere Manitoba, Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM), and Green for Life Environmental (GFL). CEM helps these entities adopt sustainable practices by promoting waste recycling and reduction.

CEM has established partnerships with various organizations to further its environmental goals. Last year, they hosted a training on backyard composting with the Green Action Centre, which saw significant participation. Additionally, CEM engaged in electronic recycling projects, promoting the proper disposal of electronics to conserve natural resources and prevent environmental harm. “We held an online discussion, modelled after TED Talks, on electronic waste recycling during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sales recalls. These efforts highlight the importance of responsible waste management in reducing environmental impact.

Reflecting on the past decade, Sales underscores the urgency of addressing climate change. “Over the past decade, we have been experiencing the impacts of climate change. It is the greatest threat to humanity,” he states. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, such as record-breaking temperatures and widespread wildfires, underscores the need for immediate action. “Addressing climate change requires new ways of thinking and doing things. We need transformative solutions across society and government sectors.”

Beyond large-scale initiatives, CEM also advocates for simple, everyday actions contributing to sustainability. “We can save water and electricity, turn off our TVs when not in use, and engage in good forms of exercise,” Sales suggests. When adopted collectively, these small steps can lead to significant positive impacts on the environment.

As CEM celebrates its seventh anniversary, Sales reflects on the journey and looks ahead with optimism. “We are proud of what we have achieved so far and remain committed to promoting sustainability and equity. Our mission is to respect the carrying capacity of our environment and foster a lifestyle that aligns with these values.”

Through its various programs and initiatives, CEM inspires and mobilizes the community towards a greener and more sustainable future. With leaders like Ramon Sales at the helm, the organization is well-positioned to make a lasting impact on the environment and the communities it serves.  

– Lourdes Federis, U Multicultural

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